By now you’ve probably heard the news that Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE, CSt has passed away. What you might not have been aware of however was just how much of a BADASS he was…
Best known for playing legendary bad guys on screen – from Dracula to ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ to a turn-coat wizard in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy – Lee was actually a rather legendary Good Guy in real life.
Christopher Lee was born somewhere in England in 1922. His mother was an Italian Countess who was actually descended from the line of Charlemagne, and she was so important that she was allowed to wear the royal seal of Frederich Barbarossa. Lee’s father, meanwhile, was a distant relative of Robert E. Lee and was multi-decorated war hero who’d served as a Colonel in the 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps during World War I and the Boer War. Growing up, Lee studied Classics at Wellington College, where he was also a champion squash player, a badass fencer, and spent his spare time playing on the school hockey and rugby.
In 1939 Christopher Lee quit his job, caught a boat to Finland, and enlisted in the Finnish Army to help them (successfully) fight off a Soviet invasion. However, he didn’t see much action, and returned home in 1940 to enlist in the Royal Air Force – where he worked as an intelligence officer specializing in cracking German ciphers. He later got posted to North Africa he was attached to the Long Range Desert Patrol and took part in their legendary deep penetration raids far behind enemy lines attacking airfields, blowing up aircraft and generally causing as much mayhem as possible before slipping away in the night.
After working with the LRDP, Lee was assigned to the Special Operations Executive and served behind the lines again in several countries around Europe. His war records are still sealed “SECRET” to this day, and Lee never revealed any details of his service himself either. However, when he retired as a Flight Lieutenant in 1945 he’d been personally decorated for battlefield bravery by the Czech, Yugoslavian, British, and Polish governments – and had allegedly become good friends with Josip Broz Tito, leader of the Yugoslav Partisans.